7-year-old girl dies after falling from SUV on 5 Freeway; mother and boyfriend arrested

Traffic on a freeway
A 7-year-old died early Saturday morning after she fell out out a moving SUV on the 5 Freeway in Newhall.

A woman and her boyfriend were arrested in connection with the death of the woman’s 7-year-old daughter after she fell out of a moving car on the 5 Freeway in Newhall, authorities told City News Service.

Veronda Gladney, 28, of Lancaster was driving northbound on the freeway near Weldon Canyon Road around 3:40 a.m. when her daughter, Tanuneka Starnes, fell out the window of a 1999 Lincoln Navigator, City News Service reported. Gladney’s boyfriend, Michael Branch, 39, of Hawthorne, was also a passenger in the car, the wire service reported.

The California Highway Patrol said in a statement that officers found the girl’s body after receiving a report of an unknown object in the road. It had been struck by multiple vehicles, according to the statement.

Julian Nieves died a few days after the June 26 train collision in the East Bay, which killed 3 others including his mother and grandmother.

July 6, 2022

How the girl fell out of the car is still under investigation, the CHP said..

The couple were arrested on charges of child endangerment, according to authorities. Branch first appeared in court Wednesday in San Fernando and was charged with misdemeanor child abuse. A pretrial hearing has been scheduled for July 27 in Santa Clarita.

It is unclear whether the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office is pursuing charges against Gladney.